Bronx youth express concerns regarding missing teen, Avonte Oquendo, and community issues

10/31/2013, 1:17 p.m.
Council Member Andy King, left, is pictured with members of the Bronx Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), who are greatly concerned about Avonte Oquendo, who has been missing for nearly three weeks. The members of Bronx YEP are holding the front page of the Amsterdam News to call attention to the 14-year-old’s disappearance and the importance of autism awareness in our community. The office of City Council Member Andy Kin

Feelings of frustration and great concern engulfed the meeting room of the Bronx Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) on Tuesday Oct. 22, as teens discussed with emotion the disappearance of a 14-year-old boy with autism and many other community issues.

Kamrin Pressley, a 13-year-old member of Bronx YEP, stated: “Today’s discussion in the youth empowerment program was about the seriousness of Avonte Oquendo’s disappearance and the importance of autism awareness, such as the different effects it can have, like not being able to talk and comprehend certain things.

“Later, we talked about how to eat to live, which is the breakdown on how foods are chemically induced, which went into how bad soda is for us. The new soda is water! Also, we discussed how our generation is the largest consumer for eating at fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King.

“Today, I met 16 new people, and I had a lot of fun in group discussion and voicing my opinion on various topics—it was great. I felt it was a good thing to go to after school on Tuesdays. At the end of the debate/discussions, Council Member Andy King told us to spread the word and tell a friend or classmate.”

Tuesday was the Bronx YEP’s third meeting for the 2013-2014 school season. Meetings are designed to help youth participate in and find solutions to today’s issues. The meetings are held every Tuesday, 4-6 p.m., in the Black Box Theater at Evander Childs Campus, 800 East Gun Hill Road, Bronx.